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man wins presidential election; world is shocked May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in 2007 french presidential election, careerwomen, class, female politicos, Female Power, female voters, feminism, france, gender, Girl Power, Hillary Clinton, in the news, International, jacques chirac, motherhood, new york times, news stories, nicolas sarkozy, politics, Power, segolene royal.
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As you may know, France’s presidential election took place recently.  In a runoff between rightist Nicolas Sarkozy and socialist Segolene Royal, Sarkozy was chosen to replace Jacques Chirac, 53 to 47 percent.  What’s relevant to ‘girl power’ is that Royal is a woman.  I found this article, “France’s female voters shun Segolene Royal,” which makes the situation sound pretty bad.  But the female vote for Royal wasn’t much different from the overall vote, with a 52 to 48 margin in favor of Sarkozy.  Although Royal focused part of her campaign on appealing specfically to female voters ‘as a mother’ and promising greater equality (only 12% of French lawmakers are female), apparently female voters thought she focused on it too much.  Some of the women interviewed say that they didn’t vote for Royal just because she’s a woman, because they didn’t think she was going to do anything for them or because she didn’t share the same vision for the country that they did.

There are two conflicting ways to look at the situation.  On one hand, isn’t this what we want, for women to be seen as individuals (as ‘human’) and not just as women?  But, do we really want that when it doesn’t work in their favor?  Especially when it might not be working in their favor because the political system is still biased against them?  And it seems that while Royal was criticized for showing too much identification with one demographic, that being women, she’s also criticized for (more…)

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women’s bodies and national ideology May 4, 2007

Posted by sindhub in bodies, Ethics, fashion police, ideology, in the news, iran, islam, modesty, morality, nationalism, new york times, politics, Power, religion, the state.
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There’s an interesting article in the New York Times today about the ‘fashion police,’ quite literally, in Iran.  Ever since the 1979 Islamic revolution that made Iran an Islamic state, there have been certain policies about how women should dress in public (modestly, in the chador) that are enforced by the police.  I think it’s important to note that before the 1979 revolution, Iran was an avowedly secular state, which meant that women actually weren’t allowed to publicly dress in ‘modest’ Islamic clothes.  I think this just goes to show that in a state that has a lot of power over its citizens, women’s bodies are one of the tools used to enforce its ideology, no matter how seemingly ‘repressive’ or ‘liberal’ that ideology is.

Here are some of the bits from the article that I found particularly amusing: (more…)

Washington D.C. Madam May 4, 2007

Posted by Melissa in bad girls go..., careerwomen, controversy, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, gender, general considerations, in the news, new york times, news stories, politics, sex sells, sex trade, sexuality.
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I just read this article in the New York Times about Deborah Jeane Palfrey, a “suspected madam” running her business in Washington D.C. I’m not sure how I feel about this just yet, but I thought it was something important we should open up to discussion. More thoughts on this to come later…

Minisode April 30, 2007

Posted by jenniferlewk in new york times, Random Bits.
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In an attempt to capitalize from old television shows, the NY Times revealed that Sony Television has been working to create the Minisode, a six minute or less episode that has a tightly done beginning, middle and end. One of the examples was the old tv show, Charlie’s Angels. Steve Mosko, the president of Sony Television, described what a Minisode of Charlie’s Angels would look like:

 “So in ‘Charlie Angels,’ they have a meeting, Charlie’s on the intercom telling them what the assignment is, there’s a couple of fights, and then a chase, and they catch the bad guy. Then they’re back home wrapping it up.”

Although it would be great to catch a Minosode of the show, it seems as though this quickly driven plot would leave no time for character development, thus marketing a show that has sexy fighting, fantastic hair flipping, and a happy ending. While many can’t see much more than that from the original television show, the show was ahead of its time and did show that women could fight, be desirable, and have a personality. As the article notes, Sony is marketing towards Internet spaces such as MySpace and Youtube, which are demographically geared toward a young generation. Will the Minisodes of older television shows actually appeal to this generation? Will the lack of true character development lend itself to this audience?

opting out April 29, 2007

Posted by sindhub in class, college, feminism, in the news, motherhood, new york times, opting out, stay-at-home moms.
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There was yet another op-ed in the NY Times last week about the recent ‘phenomenon’ of college-educated women with bright career prospects who instead choose to ‘opt out’ and become full-time mothers.  What I thought the author was basically saying was that we need to inspect the current socioeconomic system and why it makes it so hard for motherhood to be compatible with many careers as they’re set up now, as well as why women are still expected to be ‘superwomen’ who go above and beyond what their husbands do.

So I was surprised by the Letters to the Editor in response to this article.  All of them came from women, many from women who opted out of the workforce and chose to stay at home with their children.  I thought some of their letters were just positively dripping with hostility… one of them basically accused the author of being a bad mother because she didn’t stay at home with her kids.  I found it really frustrating that none of them questioned why it was them, the wives and mothers, who stayed at home, and not their husbands.  One letter tried to legitimize the right to ‘choose.’  But I think the idea of choice brings us back to one of the central questions of cultural studies (and of feminist debate): Can you really choose when your options are limited (e.g. their husbands most likely wouldn’t have chosen to stay at home, and also the recent news about the pay gap), even if you don’t realize it?

What do Jessica Lynch and Meg Ryan have in common? April 27, 2007

Posted by rachaelg in Courage Under Fire, in the news, Jessica Lynch, Meg Ryan, new york times, stereotypes, wartime politics, women in the military.
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In today’s New York Times, Michael Delong’s Opinion article, Politics During Wartime, immediately reminded me of our class discussion of Meg Ryan in Courage Under Fire.  Delong’s job (like Denzel’s in the film) was to find out what really happened before Jessica Lynch became a prisoner of war, while politicians urged him to just award her a Medal of Honor. (more…)

“Hollywood’s Shortage of Female Power” April 26, 2007

Posted by lindamc in female executives, Female Power, marketing gender, new york times, Power.
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In the Arts section of today’s NY Times, there was an article about the lack of female execs and even stars in pictures. We talked explicitly about this before in class, but the article literally says that there are often “women movies” or movies made explicitly for women. “They are nervous about the disappearance of many of the movie world’s most visible female power brokers and concerned that a box office dominated by seemingly male-oriented action films like “300” means less attention for movies that have obvious appeal to female audiences, 51 percent of moviegoers.” The article goes on to mention how we are in a “boys era” and how many female execs are losing out to male counterparts in vying for power roles in “a power play” or by not “meshing well” with athougher male execs. And, there has been a decline in  the chick flick money market (or in my opinion the quality of writing in the films…but that isn’t said by the article). The end talks about how it is a lot less about character writing  more about opening weekend and so special effects and action movies are what sells in the US and overseas. Anyway, this article is pretty much our class, and so a really interesting read.

Abortion: Now Legal in Mexico City April 25, 2007

Posted by jenniferlewk in abortion, new york times.
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An article in The New York Times revealed that abortion during the first trimester is now legal in Mexico City. This vote makes it possible for women living in Mexico City and its suburbs (approximately 10 million women) to have a legalized right to abortion. Citing death tolls of women who have received botched abortions and the female right to chose, many are thrilled with this vote and hope that it encourages other Latin American countries to do the same. What strikes me as particularly interesting,however, is Mexico’s heavily religious background. According the the 1990 census, 89.7% of Mexicans are Catholic. What does their legalizing abortion say about the church? Does their decision say anything about the United States?

April 22, 2007

Posted by jenniferlewk in gender, in the news, marketing gender, new york times, sex sells.
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Our class has spent a lot of time discussing the objectification of women–sexuality often equals profit. However, this article in the NY-Times reminded me that the marketing strategy of “sex sells” is not just used for females. Hailed “the Indiana Jones” of the History Channel, Josh Bernstein is cute. smart. single. Jewish. Interested? (more…)

Women and Druglords and Gangs, oh my! April 21, 2007

Posted by lindamc in drugs, Female Power, feminism, gender, in the news, new york times, Set it off, women in gangs.
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In the NY times today, there was an interesting article about the increase of women in high power positions in Mexico drug gangs. The article discusses how there has been an increase in deaths of women in high gang positions, and how those women have “transfered” themselves from the police in order to make more money. The women were successful because they attracted more attractive female workers who got by checkers and because they are good buisness managers. Talking to experts, the article reports that the reasons for this shift is because of a rise in poverty and women are joining to get themselves and their children out of the gutter.  Another expert theorizes that this rise will decrease the violence of the industry and make it more buisness-like.

I found it very interesting that both of these experts gave such classically feminie identies to these women who are joining drug lords. They gave them roles as mothers, and practical caretakers, who are non-violent and sensible. When I first heard of these cops turned druglord women, I did not picture a stuggling mother who would soften the life of a drug smuggler, I pictured more of a rough and tumble women like Queen Laifah (Cleo) in Set it off or other more angry and agressive women. It was interesting to me that the article painted women as possibly improving the drug smuggling buisness, when the article also says they are getting killed off more and more frequently. Either this means that many more women are entering the buisness and the number of deaths is the same per capita, or it is saying that women are not really doing well in the buisness, as they are getting caught by other gangs and killed.

I was just wondering if anyone else had any opinions on how the Times drew this article, or on your own reaction to the women, and what that says about our culture, that I automatically picture a certain kind of women selling drugs, and don’t buy the NY Time’s picture of attractive mothers who are less violent? I wonder too, what women in the US are like in gangs?